Edit (July 22, 2013): A reader notes that 100% electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles should also be included here as revolutionary technologies. I fully agree.
Awhile back, on sister site Red, Green, and Blue, an article by David Brin was published with the title “Technologies that could change everything.” At first, I was afraid it was going to be about technologies far on the horizon that could change everything if they ever came about as market competitive, but which would probably never hit the market.
I was happily surprised. The first technology mentioned was LEDs. “Take this year’s arrival of reasonably priced and stunningly efficient LED light bulbs, for example. Businesses are already doing whole-building replacements and you should start now in your heavily-lit areas. They pay for themselves so quickly that fluorescents are hogs, by comparison. Within two years, incandescents and pigtails will be considered bizarre or quaint. That’s one game-changer.” Excellent.
The second was solar PV. Just following, “That’s one game-changer,” Brin writes, “Another is the rapid fall in prices for solar energy. Photovoltaics can’t yet compete with the plummeting (in the US) price of natural gas, but their economics are surprising cynics and could accelerate soon.” (Link added.)
Brin then wanders into mention of some other more questionable tech solutions, which can be fun but isn’t as relevant to the here and now or nearly as certain as the first two examples.
So, I have to say, I was very happily surprised to see an article about “technologies that could change everything” that was actually focused on cleantech that is just starting to have such an effect. This is the important story in the tech world, yet it is still highly unrecognized.
Yes, the university and research institute stories about fun new technologies that break boundaries but may never make any noticeable impact on the world are fun. And yes, some of these “breakthroughs” or incremental improvements may end up having a lasting effect. We cover these because we know that many of our readers (and writers) are interested in news on the cutting edge, are interested in seeing what might be the next big thing.
However, I think the most important thing today is hastening the revolution of clean technologies that are already here and poised to disrupt energy and technologies industries in a critically needed way. I’m happy to see others beginning to focus more and more on these technologies, bringing greater awareness about them to the general public, helping in this cause. And, naturally, I’m super happy when you readers help spread the word through various social media channels — that touches more and more of the “normal” people and more quickly brings the future to now. We don’t want everyone to think that solar power, LEDs, and other important cleantech are solutions that will break out in 10 years. We want them to realize that they are already breaking out, and that switching to these cleaner technologies can improve their lives and the lives of people and animals around the world.
In other words, let’s keep broadcasting the technologies we have today that really can change everything*!
*”Everything” is being used in a somewhat limited sense here as a former of literary exaggeration.